When you have a baby, all your attention hones in on feeding the newest member of your family. Moms keep track of feeding times and lengths, visit the lactation clinic, figure out latches or bottle flows, and worry if Baby is getting enough to eat.
Brand-new moms spend a lot less time working on feeding themselves, and that’s no good: Parents have enough on their plates without being hangry on top of everything.
So when two friends had babies a few weeks ago, I took the first opportunity to bring them each a meal. Since I’m not terrific at feeding myself, either, I chose recipes that would feed all three of our families!
When flipping through my Pinterest boards, I looked for functional foods. I decided on this super-protein-packed quinoa enchilada slow-cooker dish because research from blogs like Body Nutrition shows protein is crucial in repairing damaged tissues—something especially important for mothers who had c-sections.
I also made these coconut-pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies. Yes, it’s important for dinner to meet all your nutritional needs, but in those early weeks of raising a newborn, sometimes a bite of something sweet can get you through that moment when your munchkin poops all over you the second you’re showered and wearing clean clothes for the first time in a week. I added a salad, threw in some tortilla chips and called it a meal.
I made a few alterations to the recipes. For the super-protein quinoa enchiladas, I nixed the turkey (I’m a vegetarian) and added tofu instead. I used Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce (it’s so much tastier than the canned stuff!) and went easy on the spices—sometimes a lot of fire and garlic transfers to breast milk and upsets babies’ tummies. I added a bit more veggies, too, because I’m a big fan of ’em.
I was thrilled that I could throw everything in the crock pot and let the appliance work its magic! Man, I love a good slow cooker recipe.
For the cookies, I swapped chocolate chips instead of raisins because duh. The recipe instructs you to refrigerate the dough for thirty minutes, so plan accordingly. I ended up leaving it in the fridge overnight because I didn’t manage my time well and had to bake them in the morning, and the dough was a little crumbly because of the extra cooling, I think.
I used a melon baller to scoop the cookie dough, which made for perfectly and uniformly sized two-bite cookies. (Seriously, the melon baller is my secret cookie tool. I love it!) They’re best the day-of; after a few days, they start to taste a bit dry. That’s the tough part of using coconut flour.
For the salads, I chopped all the toppings and included them in a plastic baggie. Ain’t nobody got time to slice peppers and peel cucumbers when a newborn’s in the house.
And voila—there was a three-course dinner for three families! It also happened to be entirely grain-free because I couldn’t remember if one of my friends was still avoiding gluten. And the verdict was overwhelmingly positive: Both friends told their husbands to keep their paws off the quinoa dish so they could have seconds; Eric rummaged around for more of the quinoa enchiladas, too, which he ate in taco shells; and Peeper scarfed down a toddler-sized portion with no complaint.
If you’re making a meal for a family with a new baby—and if you know someone who recently had or adopted a baby, I urge you to get on that—here are a few tips:
- Deliver the food in recyclable containers. Don’t put anything in Pyrex you expect to get back; new parents don’t have the energy or attention to keep track of your dishes. Put it in aluminum one-use pans, repurposed yogurt containers or Ball jars.
- Make something that’s freezable. Even if you deliver on a date designated by a meal train, you don’t know if the family has been inundated by a ton of meals at once (or if you deliver the third lasagna in a row). Make a point of saying it’s freezable—which could help the new family later, when the dinner flow dries up but they’re still figuring out how to cook.
- Write instructions on a note. I include a list of the meal with any cooking or reheating instructions. Don’t just tell them; new parents are functioning on no sleep and so won’t remember what temp to warm the oven.
- Dinners are great, but so are other meals. A friend made me a dozen breakfast burritos when I had Peeper, and reheating one in the morning was such a nice change of pace from my milk-boosting regimen of oatmeal-oatmeal-oatmeal.
Do you have any recommendations for bringing meals to new parents? What are your go-to recipes?